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Delu Song, Liangliang Zhao, Yafeng Li, Majda Hadziahmetovic, Ying Song, John Connelly, Michael Spino, Joshua L. Dunaief; The Oral Iron Chelator Deferiprone Protects Against Systemic Iron Overload–Induced Retinal Degeneration in Hepcidin Knockout Mice. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(7):4525-4532. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14568.
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To investigate the retinal-protective effects of the oral iron chelator deferiprone (DFP) in mice lacking the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin (Hepc). These Hepc knockout (KO) mice have age-dependent systemic and retinal iron accumulation leading to retinal degeneration.
Hepc KO mice were given DFP in drinking water from age 6 to 18 months. They were then compared to Hepc KO mice not receiving DFP by fundus imaging, electroretinography (ERG), histology, immunofluorescence, and quantitative PCR to investigate the protective effect of DFP against retinal and retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) degeneration.
In Hepc KO mice, DFP diminished RPE depigmentation and autofluorescence on fundus imaging. Autofluorescence in the RPE layer in cryosections was significantly diminished by DFP, consistent with the fundus images. Immunolabeling with L-ferritin and transferrin receptor antibodies showed a decreased signal for L-ferritin in the inner retina and RPE cells and an increased signal for transferrin receptor in the inner retina, indicating diminished retinal iron levels with DFP treatment. Plastic sections showed that photoreceptor and RPE cells were well preserved in Hepc KO mice treated with DFP. Consistent with photoreceptor protection, the mRNA level of rhodopsin was significantly higher in retinas treated with DFP. The mRNA levels of oxidative stress–related genes heme oxygenase-1 and catalase were significantly lower in DFP-treated Hepc KO retinas. Finally, ERG rod a- and b- and cone b-wave amplitudes were significantly higher in DFP-treated mice.
Long-term treatment with the oral iron chelator DFP diminished retinal and RPE iron levels and oxidative stress, providing significant protection against retinal degeneration caused by chronic systemic iron overload in Hepc KO mice. This indicates that iron chelation could be a long-term preventive treatment for retinal disease involving iron overload and oxidative stress.
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